Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Picked up a cd today. Another for my pile by the eightheenth century composer, Le Chevalier Saint-George. (1739-99). He gets a three line entry in a 1944 encyclopedia of music on my shelf. However, in the last seven years we have had Alan Guede's 2003 biography of the chap, and a group of enthusiasts campaigning to have the reputation of the black composer, son of a slave mother and an aristocrat come to Guadeloupe to seek his fortune, thoroughly revived. The result is that a street in the historic center of Paris between Concorde and Madeleine is now named after him. Getting a a comic strip artist to draw the cover of the Cd booklet strikes me as an odd move.
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Following my mention of Guy Davenport yesterday, I'm ashamed to say that I find that I missed an excellent essay on hs work by my fellow enthusiast Jeet Heer in the Comics journal #278. He was kind enough to send me a copy of it. If he gets it up online I'll link later, but in the meantime here are a few lines:

Like "Tatlin!" all of Davenport's illustrated stories are inventions. The pictures never serve simply to replicate what is in the words but rather add new information or a fresh perspective. These illustrated stories paralleled and anticipated some of the experiments of writers like Donald Barthelme and W.G. Sebald (kissing cousins in Davenport's literary universe.) "It was my intention, when I began writing fiction several years ago, to construct texts that were both written and drawn," Davenport noted in the introduction to his 1996 book Fifty Drawings, a gathering of his fugitive pen-and-ink work. "In my first work of fiction, "Tatlin" (1974) I drew careful replicas of works by Vladimir Tatlin that exist only as poor reproductions. These were meant to be as much a part of the story as my narrative and required more time to do than the writing. No critic has commented on them, as seeing and reading are now alienated."
'as seeing and reading are now alienated'. Let's think about that.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Aaron White said...

The other day at a local film festival I saw a documentary short titled Chocolate Country about folks who pick cacao beans. All the music in the film was played by the subjects on their off hours, and it was the richest, most haunting and lovely soundtrack of any film at the festival. Unknown cacao bean pickers tapping spoons against coke bottles, common laborers whose CD I'd snap up if anyone bothered to put them on CD.

Any remaining traces of the Great Man theory as applied to music were scrubbed out of my head as a result. Thanks, then, for bringing up this Saint-George fellow. More noteworthy musicians from outside the Officially Noteworthy file is a good thing.

2 October 2007 11:33:00 am GMT-5  
Anonymous Patrick said...

These days, Cabu is not so much a comic strip artist as he is a cartoonist and a political caricaturist. He's also a jazz fan and has done jackets for a series of jazz music CD compilations named after him. I suppose it's this aspect of his work, more than the strips he draws on the next to last page of the weekly CANARD ENCHAINÉ which landed him the job of doing the jacket for this CD.

A quick check on Amazon showed me there were at least 30 CD of works by Saint-Georges available, and all boasted traditional engraved portraits (most of them being the same one) or classical paintings.

Possibly, the publisher wanted something that would stand out a bit.

2 October 2007 5:35:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger petemaskreplica said...

There's some discussion of that cover here. The links to the AfriClassical blog are worth following.

3 October 2007 3:49:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

ah. In my original draft I gave the cover a hard time, and then thought, oh let's not drag this down...
the fact is i find it completely stupid.
(as patrick says, there are I think three portraits of Saint-George in existence and these get rotated on the cd covers.

3 October 2007 4:51:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

and as paintings they're all quite impressive.

3 October 2007 4:52:00 am GMT-5  
Anonymous John C said...

It's a poor layout, that's for sure.

The graphic presentation of classical music tends to be very conservative which is why the record companies leap on any young, photogenic soloist that they can plaster on the covers. The worst covers in my iTunes playlists are in the classical section, not helped by the tendency to list titles, composer, orchestra and soloists all the front. It's a tough proposition for a designer.

Deutsche Grammophon found one solution with that yellow box they put all the information in, leaving the rest of the cover free for any kind of picture.

3 October 2007 8:03:00 am GMT-5  

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